The first records of lottery slips date from the Han Dynasty in China, which lasted from 205 BC to 187 BC. These are thought to have been used to finance major government projects. Throughout history, people have used the game of chance to win small amounts of money, and it is said that the game was first mentioned in the Chinese Book of Songs. Today, lottery tickets can be purchased by any adult physically present in a lottery state.
The first recorded lotteries were in the Netherlands, where they raised money for the poor and for public works projects. In 1612, King James I of England established a lottery to help finance the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia. Throughout the centuries, lottery funding became a staple of society, and it was eventually used to fund public works projects, wars, and colleges. The English word lottery derives from the Dutch noun ‘lottery’, which means “fate”.
The first American lottery was organized by George Washington, with the intention of funding the Mountain Road in Virginia. Benjamin Franklin supported the idea and encouraged it to help pay for cannons during the Revolutionary War. Another lottery was run in Boston, by John Hancock, in 1769. This lottery featured prizes of slaves and land, and it was unsuccessful. The National Gambling Impact Study Commission described colonial-era lotteries as mostly unsuccessful.